Monday, March 31, 2008

Chocolate Cracked Earth!

Okay, let me just preface this by saying that I'm committing a huge no-no and posting someone elses photo of this marvelous cake. But my weekend was so crazy that I actually baked this the night before, and had to take it to work with me the next morning, and I didn't garnish it with confectioner's sugar until I actually got there, so no pictures were taken. This was taken by the fabulous Food Network staff.

I was a little intimidated by the fact that this recipe is "by" Tyler Florence. He's so fabulous, so skilled, I didn't think I would be able to keep up with it. But I looked at the recipe and I felt like I might be able to just scrape by if I was lucky and did everything I was supposed to.

Do I ever do *anything* like I'm supposed to? I baked this the same night as the Fetuccini e s... I can't remember how to spell it. Anyway, I was distracted and Jason decided that he wanted to help, so I managed to screw up almost every step of the process.

The first problem was seperating the eggs. Now, I seperate eggs literally all the time. I never eat egg yolks when I cook eggs, so I would think that this wouldn't have been the problem. But I had to fish egg whites out of my egg yolk bowl a couple times, much to my chagrin... When Jason heard me fussing (and cussing), he decided it was time for him to step in and save the day... He who rarely bakes, and has never seperated eggs a day in his life. I decided to step back and see what he would do, give him a chance and trust him until I learn not to... Bad move. Within 10 seconds, he had dropped an egg yolk into my whites bowl, and had decided the best mode of fishing it out would be with a fork... I could just throw the whites out and start from scratch, right? Wrong. I had seperated around 6 out of 9 eggs at this point, and I didn't have six more eggs to replace the ones I had already cracked. So, I spent about 20 minutes fishing out little pockets of broken egg yolk from the whites and condemned Jason to stirring the chocolate on the double burner.

The next problem was tempering the eggs. Neither Jason nor I had done this before, and we didn't know how difficult it would be. The recipe warned to do this so you do not scramble the yolk mixture, and this scared me to death! This could sabotage the whole recipe! We finally figured it out and come to find out it was so easy, it was almost thoughtless. Then it was time to was beat the whites to soft peaks. What the hell are soft peaks?! Thankfully my mom was around for this part, and I very, very leerily let Jason beat the eggs. I was pleasantly surprised! He started out slow, then gradually picked up speed and occasionally lifted up the beaters to check to see how far along it was. I might even say he probably did better than I would have. :) Most importantly, I now know what soft peaks are!

The final problem was my oven. The instructions say to bake the cake at 350 for 25 minutes... 25 minutes came and it was still runny in the middle, then 30, then 35... Finally at 40 minutes it had set, and I had about had a heart attack and KNEW somewhere along the line I had screwed up. When I pulled it out of the oven, it was still very puffed up like a souffle. It was soft and still had a little jiggle in the middle, although when I poked it with a toothpick in several different places it came out clean. The whole house smelled like rich, velvety chocolate!

What came of it was an incredibly light, soft chocolate dessert that was more like a cheesecake than a cake. It was richer than fudge, but light and airy like a souffle. This recipe was wonderful, and if it managed to turn out despite all of the drama involved during its conception, anyone can do it.

Chocolate Cracked Earth (flourless chocolate cake)
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick unsalted butter*
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups heavy cream,
cold Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1 inch of simmering water until melted.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate - then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan.

While the cake is cooking, whip the cream until it becomes light and fluffy.
Serve at room temperature dusted with confectioners' sugar and topped with whipped cream.

*Cook's Note: Food Network Kitchens tested this recipe after this show was taped and determined that 1 stick butter is the correct amount.


bethanyjg said...

This sounds so yummy. Perhaps I will make it in May. lol. I am proud of you for tempering those eggs! That sounds scary to me!

bethanyjg said...

Anna Marie, you know you have one of my favorite blogs! I've given you a "Blogging with a Purpose" award. Check it out here!

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